Elon Musk Forced To Defend "An Amazing American Success Story" In 60 Minutes – Shame On You, CBS



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December 10, 2018 per Carolyn Fortuna


60 minutesErratic, unstable, reckless, operatic. These are some of the descriptors that Leslie Stahl used to describe Elon Musk during his participation in the episode on Sunday, December 5, 2018. 60 minutes. The CEO of Tesla, which brought the all-electric company from obscurity to profitability and higher valuation than all auto companies except Toyota and Volkswagen, spoke with Stahl about how this year was the "most painful year" of his career. The discussion covered manufacturing, Twitter, robotics and childhood. It is important to note that Musk used the media's appearance as an opportunity to challenge how the business is done in the US – from General Motors to the Security and Exchange Commission (SEC).

To understand what happened and what Stahl and Musk experienced, let us increase what they have said and the power of the media to frame language for specific purposes. In doing so, we can discover the methods that CBS has used to put Musk on the defensive instead of concluding a US business that is poised to take the world to the future of fully electric transport essential to achieving the goals of the Paris Accord. in the mood. Also keep in mind the reputation established as an iconoclast who prides himself on not adhering to "some CEO model."

Musk as a person and business model: one and the same?

"Let me embrace you, sorrowful adversity, for the wise say it is the wisest way."
– William Shakespeare –

60 minutesAccording to the series' website, it is "the most successful American television broadcast in history" and began its 51st season in September 2018. The planning, design and execution of each one of them 60 minutes The episode is extensive, taking many months and costs to move the textual narrative from the sketch to the transmission. It is interesting to note the language Stahl used during this period 60 minutes Interview with Tesla CEO Elon Musk to understand CBS's intentional programmatic choices, including persuasive and lasting effects on the audience from the framework and questions.

Every element of Musk's interview was consciously planned and intentional. Each element recorded a specific vision and explanation of how ordinary people in the specific circumstances of today's US business world should live and act. Musk clearly cut short what business doing in the US today might seem. Identifying the roots of what the media describes as "normal", we can identify challenges for them.

Stahl, as an interviewer, set the narrative tone for the 14-minute interview published. The conversation began with Stahl's remark that in the last year Musk "started acting, well, weird" and entered into a question and answer conversation about his tweets.

The two then discussed Musk's removal from Tesla's chairmanship position by the SEC and his hand-picked replacement, whose role Stahl captured as "like a nanny."

She then made a transition to a glimpse of Musk's childhood and used it as a metaphor for her adult self as "a fighter, determined to succeed and prove that everyone is wrong." Stahl wrote that Musk "complained bitterly about all the opponents and critics who were his failure. Bitterly. Reviewing Tesla's sometimes tense 2018 financial journey and then touring a Tesla autopilot, the two predicted how Model 3 might in fact become what Stahl called "a car for the average man, who is what you intend to build. " The interview ended with an overview of the investigations into conditions inside Tesla's factories and notes on GM's recent staff reduction announcement.

  • Words that Stahl used to describe Musk in the narration: "Genius, a visionary, self-inflicted wounds, capricious, guided by a dream, bleeding money, strange, picking unnecessary fights in social media, smoked marijuana during a podcast, warzone tweeting, had to relinquish his position as president of Tesla There is something bigger than life about Elon Musk, he has a follower cult, one of Silicon Valley's most successful and versatile entrepreneurs, built powerful rockets with reusable boosters, digging an underground tunnel to deal with traffic congestion, in each case he started a company, fighter, determined to succeed and prove that all were wrong, fought a battle this year, complained bitterly, pessimists and critics who were firing on his failure, failure was imminent, pushed his workers, pushed even more, supposedly being a "wow" was the price, had to deal with complaints about the conditions inside the factories of Tesla, h hear other concerns, chain of senior managers and engi Left, the company still has billions in debt. "
  • Words that Stahl used to describe Musk during the actual interview: "The company can not survive without you, impulsive, non-CEO, erratic, unstable, reckless, operatic, twitta a lot, you use your tweet to return to critics, you kind of have minor press fights Tweets censored, your tweets are not supervised, put to look after you, as a nanny, grew up in South Africa, a happy childhood, you are serious, bullied, father as emotionally abusive, then you do not have a happy childhood, the story is how he established and reached the production target of 5,000 3s models per week, made Tesla profitable, almost failed the company, last-minute push, automation champion, robots continued to crack, notorious, pessimistic say you mind, this is how they interpret, accusations of unreported injuries, excessive hours, abusive conditions, nonsense, various investigations by the press and regulatory bodies, you go to sleep at night. "
  • Words that Musk used in response to Stahl's statements / questions: "I'm a little impulsive, I do not know how to smoke anything, honestly, under insane stress, the system would have failed if I were really erratic, I used my tweets to express myself, Twitter is a war zone, nobody is perfect, I do not respect the SEC, I do not respect them, I respect the judicial system, not realistic, I am the largest shareholder, terrible, violent, almost beaten to death, if you call this bullied, father has serious problems, relentless criticism, implacable, outrageous, unfair, an incredible American success story, that's the story that really should be told, you have to bet the company, it was life or death, a scary and miraculous effort, they simply did not count on this unconventional situation , people are much better at dealing with unexpected circumstances than robots, as difficult as it might be for them, I would make it worse for me, quite savage, not as a promise, to punctuate is not my strong point, because I'm dumb – at p writing dates, does not mean I'm a liar, I've never made a mass-produced car, there was an aggressive UAW campaign to totally attack Tesla with a load of nonsense – to try to unionize the company, I do not think this is correct, someone is making some great cars. "

One method of textual textual analysis that is often used is called "content analysis," in which terms are counted and qualitatively categorized. It is a basic analytical approach, but it uncovers some interesting initial data. Applying the content analysis in the 3 discursive sections above with the descriptor connotations, we see the following content results:

Positive connotations Stahl used to describe Musk / Tesla: 18

Negative connotations that Stahl used to describe Musk / Tesla: 47

Opportunities for Musk to respond with positive connotations: 11

Negative Musk Contests Used in Response to Stahl: 26

Thus, as a percentage of estimate, about 9% of Stahl's descriptors on Musk / Tesla were positive connotations, while about 72% were negative. Musk is known for brutal honesty, even when it comes to himself, not for spinning stories in a typical corporate RP way. In response, Musk responses were 30% positive and 70% negative.

We can deduce, as a result of this content analysis, that CBS 60 minutes Musk's interview was framed to put Musk on the defensive, to describe his occasionally remarkable, but often unreliable, leadership role, and to position Tesla as an unsuspecting American automaker.

60 minutes

"The story that really should be told:" Doing Meaning of Musk 60 minutes Interview

"You are not only responsible for what you say, but also for what you do not say."
– Martin Luther –

Our social worlds necessarily depend on interpretations and explanations of events, and the language we use to describe these events can transform our social life in various ways. Musk and Tesla Dream have broken traditional versions of how businesses are made in the US. Electric vehicles, automation and renewable energies are disrupting entire industries – and it's happening faster than most people realize. The energy transition is happening in real time around us, not in some distant future.

Through the critical analysis of discourse like this article, we see social and linguistic practices as part of a larger rhetorical strategy in which social power relations are established and reinforced through the use of language. Considering the sociopolitical contexts of a moment in time, we examine the language exchanges within the 60 minutes segment as political discourse acts and highlights the meaning that is used to persuade an audience.

60 minutesConsumerism as a social life: The focus on consumer societies is not only because capitalism is the dominant economic system in the Western world, but also because the character of the economic system affects every aspect of social life. Capitalism has changed over the past 30 years and has brought about major changes in politics, the nature of work, education and health, social and moral values ​​and lifestyles.

Tesla in general and Musk in particular hindered the United States auto industry, which is not giving up easily. The California company developed strategies to enter the high-end market with a premium sports car, the Model S, with a high price targeting a very narrow target. It then moved incrementally to the X SUV model and, more recently, to more mass market appeal with the compact model 3 sedan, priced in line with the competition. Electric vehicles are marketed via the Internet, by word of mouth and via media articles. It is important to note that without an intermediary, Tesla presents the customer through its galleries (stores), which are strategically located in sophisticated shopping areas and invite potential customers as part of their daily routine.

Stahl did not recognize any of these details in his interview, instead he asked Musk in various ways to respond to critics' claims.

Elon Musk (EM): "There have been ruthless, ruthless, outrageous and unjust criticisms. Because what really happened here was an incredible American success story. All these people work hard day and night to make it happen. And they believe in the dream. And that's the story that really should be told. "

→ Related: Why Tesla American's success story is not getting any love

Tesla represents a coalescence of forces that pose an existential threat to the traditional automakers of the United States. Tesla is leading a huge break in the automotive industry, and the industry is lagging behind.

FreedomsCritique looks at what is "normal" and retreats, focusing on values ​​- in particular, visions of good society and human well-being and flowering. It is based on the assessment of existing societies and possible ways of modifying them. For example, many people would agree that societies should be fair or just, guarantee certain freedoms, and provide certain basic needs of their members. Many around the world argue that we need to take drastic and immediate action to combat climate change. For example, fuel efficiency standards for vehicles (such as the US Economy Fuel Economy Standards) save drivers money because the higher starting cost for a more efficient car is more than offset by all the smaller years consumption of gasoline.

EM: "The goal of Tesla is to accelerate the advent of electric vehicles. And sustainable transport and trying to help the environment. We think it is the most serious problem humanity faces. "

People have very different ideas of justice, freedom, and necessity. Tesla's ability to manufacture a fleet of fully electric vehicles sets the example and assesses what exists, what may exist and what should exist based on a coherent set of zero emissions values.

Media Platforms: The analysis of dialectical relations can take place between discourse and other elements or moments, as well as the analysis of internal relations that people experience through language. Multimodal analysis of the different semiotic modes, including language, visual images, body language, music and sound effects – and their articulation is appropriate at a time when YouTube, Twitter and Facebook compose typical reading platforms where ideas about fully electric vehicles, especially Tesla, occurs.

EM: "The only tweets that would have to be, say, revised, would be if a tweet had a probability of causing a movement in stock. … I want to be clear. I do not respect SEC. I do not respect them.

This is where ideology comes in. Interpretations and explanations of Tesla's marketing are as ideological as the influence of Big 3 in Michigan to prohibit Tesla from selling its vehicles directly there. CBS, suggesting that Musk's SEC censorship is not only inadequate but also necessary – it maintains particular power relations. Tesla is pushing the transportation to a clean, zero-emission, cleaner electric future than any other company. But we also need the leadership of large, non-electric automakers, rather than attempts to weaken Tesla's multimodal messages.

GM vs. Tesla: an event of social discourse

The completion of Musk 60 minutes interview is interesting to analyze specifically. It was all over the web a couple of days before the segment even airing, whet the appetite of Tesla fans as well as hungry media members of All Things Tesla. We have a story that comes later tonight.

60 minutes

Having Musk walking through Stahl through the Tesla assembly line offered the public a visual representation of US manufacturing that is both efficient and innovative.

Elon Musk leads Leslie Stahl through a Tesla electric car factory. He arrives with his palm out to demonstrate a facet of the high and vibrant production line, while Stahl speaks in the narration. Tesla is expanding, increasing its workforce, while rival General Motors has announced that it is planning to lay off some 14,000 employees and inactive factories. In the background, young men of color carry Tesla's doors off an assembly line.

With GM's recent downsizing announcement, Stahl offered Musk and Tesla a brief nod that symbolized, yes, that legacy automakers have a dilemma in their hands. The transition to electric cars is difficult, but Tesla is doing it, right here in front of us. They're getting so good they can save some Detroit production by buying empty GM plants.

The scene turns into an exchange of talking heads. Musk has removed his Tesla cap and is listening intently to Stahl's question. LS: Would you like to buy some of these plants, these factories? Musk nods twice before finishing his question. What are they closing? He shakes his head again, twice. Are you shaking your head, yes?

EM: It is possible that we were interested in selling a plant or not using it, that we would accept it. He nods again.

60 minutes

Tesla has performed what many have said it could never be, and is now inviting other automakers to attend the celebration of electric vehicles.

The scene switches to a helicopter overhung by a GM tower with gold panels. LS: GM also announced that it will double its investment in developing electric cars. And Elon Musk is celebrating. High metal factor beams frame a claw as it moves a golden car overhead. Then we see a red-cherry Chevy Bolts line ready to leave the factory floor. A white Bolt bumper on the front fills the next screen, with the cargo portal prominent. Why do you want competition?

Some companies are moving fast and innovating within the automotive industry, but others are stuck in the past. Tesla is building Gigafactories around the world and becoming the model for fully electric automated vehicles.

EM: The whole point of Tesla is the advent of electric vehicles (breaksustainable transport. He shakes his head from left to right. We are trying to help the environment. It is the most serious problem that humanity faces.

Tesla's website states its patent infringement policy: "Tesla Motors was created to accelerate the advent of sustainable transportation. If we open the way for the creation of attractive electric vehicles, but then we put the intellectual property landmines behind us to inhibit others, we are acting contrary to that goal. Tesla will not initiate patent proceedings against anyone who, in good faith, wants to use our technology. "

Stahl looks now as Musk speaks. I'm not sure you know that, but we've opened all our patents. So if anyone wants to use our patents, you can use them for free. LS: Are your patents open source? His eyes widen and his head leans forward. If someone comes and makes an electric car better than the Tesla, and it's much better than ours, that we can not sell our cars, and we fail, I still think it's a good thing for the world.

Final Thoughts

This was not the only 60 minutes interview that Musk had. In 2008 an episode titled "The Race for the Electric Car" found the now-famous Musk describing the reasons why electric cars were not just a good investment, but the transportation of the future. So as now, Tesla has recognized that other companies are and should be making electric cars, and the world would benefit from a common, rapidly evolving ideology that electric cars are needed for a sustainable future.

If only mass media channels, such as CBS, gave Tesla the responsibility to accelerate their ability to transform aspects of the environment and life. It is what this type of article intended to do – to make the dialectical relationships between discourse and other social elements transparent with respect to the critic's goals of not only interpreting the world, but contributing to its modification.


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Tag: CBS, Elon Musk, GM, Tesla


About the author

Carolyn Fortuna Carolyn Fortuna, Ph.D. is a writer, researcher and educator with a lifelong dedication to eco-justice. She has won awards from the Anti-Defamation League, the International Literacy Association and The Leavy Foundation. She specializes in literacy in digital media and learns to spread the word about sustainability issues. Please follow me Twitter and Facebook and Google+



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